The Royal Family of Britain, which the government tries to sell as one of the country’s tourism attractions, spends the public money in a way which is nothing short of a disgrace.
The British public has considered a thorough and detailed review of the royal family’s finances as a long overdue, which it seems is coming true following a change in the law that allows the Members of Parliament (MPs) to take a closer look into the royals’ finances.
Now, Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family face an inquiry into their expenses which would decide whether they provide value for money to the taxpayer.
“When Prince Charles [the second in line to the throne] spends tens of thousands of pounds of public money on personal holidays without a whisper of outrage from our politicians there is clearly something wrong”, says Graham Smith, chief executive of the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic.
“It is crucial that any such investigation abandons all sense of deference for the royals and has a good hard look at how the palace is wasting taxpayers’ money”, adds Graham Smith.
Therefore, the inquiry, to be launched later this year by the House of Commons’ powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC), will grill the Queen’s closest allies, The Independentreports.
According to the report the PAC will decide on the scope of the investigations after the National Audit Office (NAO) gets access to the Queen’s finances next month.
The NAO is to prepare a report on the Queen’s finances that will be the basis for the PAC’s further action, deemed to include calling palace officials before the Commons to explain on their finances.
“[Committee chairperson] Margaret [Hodge] wants to do it – but obviously it’s got to be a decision of the whole committee,” the paper quoted a source as saying.
Republic says it has been pushing for greater scrutiny of royal costs – estimated by the group to be over £200million a year – and has recently written to the PAC chair Margaret Hodge calling for an investigation into Prince Charles’s tax avoidance.
“The issue of tax must also be thoroughly investigated – it is not acceptable that the Queen and her eldest son are exempt from the same tax regimes as the rest of us”, said the chief executive of the Republic.
Some of the spending to be scrutinized are expected to be the royal transport costs including the Royal Train and the Royal Flight, the royals’ entertainment and the upkeep of palaces.
This also includes the Royal Estate assets including Regent Street in London, Ascot racecourse and Windsor Great Park, 265,000 acres of farmland, as well as Britain’s national seabed stretching out 12 nautical miles around the country.
However, it could be a hard question to answer whether the royals are worth the money they spend irrespective of its easiness to audit their expenses.
For example, the Queen will receive £36.1million in April to fund official duties. The sum enjoys a 16 percent increase on the £31million paid by taxpayers last year.
Despite the coalition government’s crippling austerity measures and savage spending cuts, the amount of taxpayer’s funds going to the royal family has increased last year.
Meanwhile, campaigners say it’s time the Treasury take steps to close down this well entrenched tax avoidance scheme and tell the royals they can no longer enjoy privileged tax status.